Surveys

Systematic bird surveys are central to understanding what is happening with bird populations and to planning conservation. Many members contribute to the major national surveys carried out by the British trust for Ornithology, such as the Breeding Bird Survey and the Wetland Bird Survey, and the Club operates its own Garden Bird Survey. Information on current surveys is given below, together with the people to contact if you would like to take part.

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)

An annual national survey of all birds recorded on two 1km transects of randomly selected 1km squares on two visits in he breeding season. Organiser: British Trust for Ornithology. Berkshire Representative: Ken & Sarah White (btoberks.ken.sarah@googlemail.com).

The BBS measures the abundance of the commoner species found in the breeding season and is used to estimate population trends at regional and national levels, which are published annually. The Berkshire data are used to estimate a Berkshire Bird Index and county trends in abundance, which are published in the Birds of Berkshire Annual Reports from 2011.

Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)

A monthly survey of wetland sites to monitor the abundance of wildfowl and waders nationally. WeBS results are published annually and data are available from the BTO.  Organiser: British Trust for Ornithology. Berkshire Representative: Ken & Sarah White (btoberks.ken.sarah@googlemail.com).

Garden Bird Survey (GBS)

The Club’s Garden Bird Survey allows members to record weekly counts of bird species seen in participants’ gardens. The latest form can be downloaded here (front and back).  Contact Ted Rogers (ted.rogers@berksoc.org.uk) for further details.

Breeding Water Rail Survey 2017

Water Rails are secretive birds whose breeding status in Berkshire is poorly documented. In the Atlas surveys of 2008-2011, Water Rails were confirmed to have bred in only five tetrads, with probable breeding in a further three. All but one of these sites were in the Kennet valley between Hungerford and Padworth. Given that marsh habitat occurs in 105 tetrads and they were recorded in 84 tetrads in winter, it seems likely that we are considerably underestimating their presence as breeding species. Following a successful pilot breeding survey in 2016, we are seeking surveyors for a larger scale survey in 2017.  The survey is carried out between late March and early May and involves surveyors, working in pairs, playing a recording of Water Rails “sharming” and listening for a sharming response. Please contact Renton Righelato if you can help.

Swift Survey

The RSPB do an annual swift survey. Records in 2014 were considerably lower than before in Berkshire and across the country, perhaps due to development pressure.  This record set is important for Swift Conservation and others to encourage developers to install swift boxes in suitable areas and challenge damaging developments. Swifts will use artificial nest sites if located correctly and the cost to developers is tiny.  Recording is easy to do: just one record per site a year. Please help by going to to the RSPB’s Swift Survey page to  record sightings of:
a. Definite nest sites where you have seen swifts going into cracks in buildings
b. Screaming parties: groups of swifts flying at roof level noisily
c. Missing nest sites: places where you used to see swifts, but not any longer.